Maintenance Eligibility Notes
by David Mallory, P. E., Project Engineer
Floodplain Management Program
Robust development pace continues
Everyone involved with land development design, construction and oversight is
well aware that the 2001 recession has missed, or at worst, scored an indirect hit on
metropolitan Denver's housing industry. We have seen some slowing in long range planning
and a modest slow down in construction plan submittals. None-the-less, we processed 220
construction plan submittals in 2001, a 25% reduction from the 300 submittals reviewed
Some of the reduction in plan submittals can be attributed to fewer review
cycles necessary to achieve plan approval. One of our goals with the maintenance
eligibility program is to reduce and streamline the process of approving construction
projects. We issued 60 design approval letters for 220 submittals during the last 12
months, meaning each approved design took an average of 3.5 review cycles. Three cycles or
less seems a reasonable target. Based on past experience we can offer the following
strategies for shortening design review times:
- Review the basin master plan. The District has prepared
nearly 100 master plans for the metropolitan area. Some master plans are outdated, but
they all provide a solid starting point.
- Review District design criteria. Our criteria manual
has been recently updated. Several new items have been added (storm sewer outlet
treatments for example) and some old standbys have been altered or deleted. Make sure the
area set aside for regional drainage facilities will accommodate approvable channel
- Check the web site for updated construction details and
software downloads. We are continually developing design aids in order to streamline the
- Review flood hazard data. Check for FEMA and District
- Read the Guidelines for Maintenance Eligibility. The
latest guidelines were issued in September 2000, and contain lots of helpful information.
- Meet with us. After completing the research and
conceptual planning, ask for a pre-submittal meeting. A number of consultants are taking
advantage of this service to the benefit of their projects. The sooner we are involved in
project reviews, the less time will be spent in reworking ill-fated concepts.
- Use standard designs. The criteria manual has a full
array of pre-designed hydraulic elements. Unique designs must have complete engineering
backup. Thus, a unique design takes more time and effort to review and will likely result
in added review time.
- Meet with us again. During the design phase a lot of
unexpected issues come up from scheduling to aesthetics, permitting and local issues. The
District is also in an excellent position to offer advice relative to the preparation of
We are also available by e-mail, fax or telephone to answer questions on design
criteria or the maintenance eligibility program. A new feature for 2002 will be online
access to the District's maintenance eligibility database, updated monthly.
In the field
An integral part the maintenance eligibility process is construction oversight.
If anything, construction activity has increased this year over past years. We typically
have 100 to 130 projects approved for construction at any given moment. During 2001, we
completed 120 construction observation site visits. Over 50 current projects were
completed and recommended for construction acceptance. Another 16 previously approved
projects were re-inspected for vegetative cover and given final approval.
Boyle Engineering, Inc. has provided some added horsepower to the field program.
We brought them onboard during the last quarter of 2001 to help with the elevated
construction observation requests. The FEMA connection On July 1, 2001, we began a new
relationship with FEMA. We are now providing technical review of FEMA floodplain
submittals (see Bill's article). Besides the several advantages of reviewing these
documents locally, there is also a connection to the District's maintenance eligibility
program. When a request is made to change a community's floodplain map, FEMA requires that
community to assure the maintenance of the facility responsible for the map change. Having
District maintenance assistance for flood control facilities helps local governments
fulfill federal responsibilities and eases the approval process for developers.
The FEMA connection
views of the Wadley South Channel at The Haven at York.
On July 1, 2001, we began a new relationship with FEMA.We are now providing
technical review of FEMA floodplain submittals (see Bills article).Besides the
several advantages of reviewing these documents locally, there is also a connection to the
Districts maintenance eligibility program. When a request is made to change a
communitys floodplain map, FEMA requires that community to assure the maintenance of
the facility responsible for the map change. Having District maintenance assistance
for flood control facilities helps local governments fulfill federal responsibilities and
eases the approval process for developers.
Projects that are eligible for District maintenance assistance have been
receiving speedy reviews in the LOMR process. We become familiar with project details
through design review and construction observation. We know a floodplain map revision will
eventually be necessary and help the consultant plan for that phase. The result is a
streamlined map revision process.
Consider, for example, The Haven at York Street subdivision in the City of
Thornton. The major drainageway involved is Wadley South from the UP Railroad to its
confluence with Big Dry Creek. Improvements included an engineered channel, drop
structures and a roadway crossing. A downstream developer also cooperated with
right-of-way and project funding. Benik Consulting Services provided design and
construction observation for the project. We approved the construction plans on July 31,
2000, and construction commenced in the spring of 2001. The final punch list was prepared
the end of July and we accepted construction the end of August. The LOMR request was
submitted on the 8thof August. We acknowledged receipt of all materials necessary for
review on August 29, 2001 (coinciding with construction acceptance). FEMA issued the LOMR
on September 25, 2001. We think that's remarkable considering the national disaster and
attendant upheaval that occurred during the review period.
In summary, projects that follow the strategies outlined above, receive District
plan approval and are built according to the approved plans can expect a swift and
relatively painless floodplain map revision.
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